Tourist traps and thoughtful times

March 5, 2013

So I asked Joey to please set his watch alarm last night to wake me up at 6:45 this morning because we have to meet in the lobby at 9AM for our visa appointment at the U.S. Consulate. He more than gently nudged me out of bed this morning, insisting I had slept past the time I was supposed to be up, that it was now 7AM and I had to get going. I very reluctantly got in the shower after another less than adequate nights’ sleep due to Griffin. We’ve totally failed at our efforts to sleep train him and he still wakes up every 2-3 hours and nurses around the clock like a newborn. As I’m getting out of the shower, Joey comes in to inform me that I’m going to be very upset with him, but it’s actually only 5:20…he had set his watch to China time and had forgotten the switch he made last night. Once I’m awake, I’m awake and have a really hard time falling back asleep, so he went back to bed and I’ve spent the last two hours partly angry and trying to get over the missed two hours I could have been sleeping and have tried to make the best of it. Another not jolly way to start the day!

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What’s that? You didn’t sleep well? I did!

 

Our trip to apply for the visas went smoothly- we took our oaths and got the necessary paperwork submitted in order to pick up our visa for Charlotte tomorrow afternoon and then head home! Some friends from our group here commented that they have seen the biggest change in Charlotte than in any of the other kids adopted this week. She is really blossoming! The sun was out today and yesterday- it hadn’t been for the entire rest of the trip, so that has been a welcome sight! Charlotte took notice of the sun in her face and you could tell it wasn’t something she was used to. She wanted to walk all around today without holding my hand, and even fought me a couple of times when I needed to pick her up to go up a big staircase or get somewhere faster (she is very slow!).

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These kids are stiff!

 

After the visa appointment, our group went to the legendary Shaiman Island, the former home of the ‘White Swan’ hotel where all adoptive families used to stay and complete their adoptions before the medical and consulate offices moved into the city. The island features lots of tourist shops and beautiful grounds to walk around in, a park and an American Bar and Grill restaurant called “Lucy’s”. Lucy’s was okay, and better when you’re maxed out on traditional Chinese food. The island was very pretty and we enjoyed seeing all the statues we had seen in pictures- the statues of how the Chinese view the typical American adoptees…old and fat.

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This is a “famous” sculpture of American adopting parents.

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We’re not sure what this is all about, but that dog clearly gets lots of attention.

Griffin continued to be the center of attention. I think there just aren’t any white babies around here. Most adopting families (probably almost all) don’t have little babies they tote along unless it’s the baby they just adopted. We are a rare sight in these parts.

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The Chinese ladies love them some Griffin!

 

One of the hotel workers (a man) called another man to come see Griffin, too. It’s just funny to see two grown men dote over a baby. He eats it up, too. He is pretty cute:

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“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”

 

To be honest, we weren’t all that impressed with the island. After all the hype we’ve heard, I was expecting more. Almost all the stores felt like dollar stores and walking into them we were totally swarmed by the retailers throwing items at us, following us around the store (literally in your face and breathing down your neck as you look at stuff), handing us items to buy- so annoying. I was so agitated when we left- very grumpy. I felt like there had to be something we were missing about the island that gave it such rave reviews, so instead of heading back with our group when we had really only seen one full street, we (I) decided we should stay longer to not be rushed and be sure to see it all. I wish we had gone back with our group. Besides Charlotte getting a chance to play at the park (which she’d never done until today!) with Joey, we basically just wandered around looking for the elusive store or sight we possibly could have missed, but never found anything else worthwhile. We took a taxi back to the hotel and went to dinner at the Irish Pub we enjoyed because it was quiet, uncrowded, and felt more like we were back home. I miss my babies and can’t wait to get home to give them big hugs!! I’m sure my mom is exhausted from watching the kids all this time and so ready to go home herself!

 

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Climbing the stairs with Daddy

 

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And down the slide together!

March 6, 2013

 

Today we went to the “Bohemian” (Botanical) Gardens. It was China-quirky, but so beautiful.

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Clearly Bohemian.

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Dutch bunnies are in EVERY Bohemian garden.

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The Rose Garden was pretty impressive.

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Holland! Um, I mean, China!

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Griffin chillin’ with some dwarves.

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Charlotte making an unauthorized stop in Mario World.

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We should have been doing THIS the WHOLE TIME!!!

 

Griffin continued to be the main attraction, however:

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The paparazzi are getting out of control!

 

We’ve spent the evening re-packing and getting ready to head home early in the morning. Charlotte talked more today than she has yet- singing little songs in Cantonese, exclaiming (loudly) when she sees something neat (which is most things to her), and is continuing to walk and even slowly jog down the hallways here at the hotel and out and about, too. We ate at Oggi’s Pizzeria (voted #1 pizza place in China by us) for our last dinner here, and when the bread sticks (literally- hard as rocks) arrived before the meal, she shrieked with delight so loudly everyone around us turned to look. She is literally having the time of her life!

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She even gets excited when we get her bottle ready.

Tonight after giving Charlotte a bath, I got out a Q-Tip and carefully cleaned her filthy belly button. She had umbilical cord bits still caked into her navel area, and after 2 ½ years, it took some time to dig it out of there. It got me to thinking more about her birth mother and what she might have been like. I wonder as I pass by people on the street here with Charlotte what her birth parents looked like- her mother must have had full, pretty lips like Charlotte, and I will never know who in the family she inherited her huge smile from. I wish her mother could know that Charlotte is happy and has a family now who loves her and will give her a good life. I can’t imagine what she goes through every day of her life not knowing what became of her baby after she left her at the orphanage gate. I wish I could thank her for giving Charlotte life when so many in her circumstances would not have. I am so grateful for the opportunity to raise her as my daughter, although in a perfect world, it would have been best for her to be raised by her birth parents. In an ideal world, it would have been best for her to be adopted by a Chinese family and stay within her own country and culture. Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in. I am glad the Lord chose us to be one of the families He calls to show His grace and mercy and love for us through the beautiful picture of adoption.  If you don’t really know what we mean by that, you might want to check out this website for a start – or ask us!

This adoption journey has been the greatest adventure of my life, but it’s time to begin a new normal- back to the regular routine of life and all the good and bad that goes with it. I am ready to see my babies and introduce Charlotte to her anxiously awaiting siblings and Grammy. Not to mention, my sweet tooth is severely suffering here. The things that are supposed to be sweet here are somehow, well, just not quite right. That’s the land we’ve been living in for the past 15 days, and it’s time to go home!